May 11, 2009
Several classes of hypnotic medication are available: the older barbiturates and their derivatives; benzodiazepines; chemically distinct “z-compounds”; antihistamines and antihistaminic antidepressants; and melatoninergic compounds. The use of hypnotic medications continues at a high rate. However, some switching to the shorter-acting benzodiazepines has occurred. The z-compounds-eszopiclone, zolpidem, and zaleplon-have become popular; they seem to have fewer residual effects than the benzodiazepines. Even so, care is needed in prescribing such hypnotics for the elderly.